EB-5 Visa, L-1 Visa, E-2 Visa

E-2 Visa: Change of Status approved for a Singaporean national amidst the COVID-19 pandemic

By Verdie Atienza

The client entered the US on a visitor’s visa and recognized the opportunity to set up a full-service business coaching and management consulting company with the goal of improving client’s profitability and increasing operational efficiency. He is the head of a private equity and capital markets firm in Singapore responsible for raising millions in sees capital from various investors and overseeing all aspects of business strategy, corporate governance and product development for global startups. 

The client decided to apply to change status to E-2 Treaty Investor Visa for the following reasons:

  1. He wanted to capitalize on the opportunity in the US;
  2. He was concerned about not being able to come back to the US as soon as he would like if he applies for the E-2 visa at the Embassy because of COVID-19;
  3. He wanted to immediately be able to develop and direct the US company.

With the assistance of D&A, the client was able to timely file an application to change status to E-2. As expected, he received a request for evidence. The challenges to his E-2 change of status application were as follows:

  1. He was required to provide for additional evidence to prove business viability since his company is a start-up;
  2. He was asked to prove his capacity to develop and direct the enterprise considering that the company is a service-oriented one. USCIS has been known to issue RFEs for service-oriented businesses with the treaty investor applicant  as one of the primary service providers.
  3. He was required to prove his non-immigrant intent.

D&A successfully overcame the RFE and obtained an approval for the client. Our team worked closely with our business plan team to prepare a strong response to prove the business viability of the E-2 company even if it is a start-up. COVID-19 made things more challenging because the lockdown and restrictions to gather in big groups will force the company to resort to online or virtual trainings.

We also had to prove to USCIS that our client has the ability to develop and direct the company. Since the company is a service-oriented business, demonstrating that the client will be performing work that is “solely” focused on developing and directing the E-2 company may be difficult, however, we were able to prove that the activities of the E-2 investor applicant are primarily focused on business management and development. We successfully demonstrated that the client’s performance of consulting activities are incidental to their job developing and directing the business. 

With the approval of the change of status application, the Company will now be able to organize corporate trainings that will lead to the professional development and improvement of the employees. The Company will provide strategic consulting services to businesses, enabling them to achieve sustained, profitable growth. This service segment includes strategic advice in the areas of general growth strategy, leadership development, performance improvement, mergers and acquisitions, and corporate portfolio design. In the area of leadership development, the Company’s team views employee engagement as a potential source of competitive advantage. The services of the Company become particularly relevant as the most US companies have to rise above the economic slowdown as a result of the pandemic.

The E-2 Treaty Investor Visa offers the opportunity to invest in and own a business in America. Applicants must come from an E-2 Treaty country. Click here to find out if your country holds an E-2 Treaty with the United States. If your country does not have an E-2 Treaty with the United States, it is possible to quickly obtain citizenship by investment of an E-2 Treaty country which would make you eligible. Grenada Citizenship by Investment and Turkish Citizenship by Investment are the quickest routes to E-2 Visa eligibility.

This article is published for clients, friends and other interested visitors for information purposes only. The contents of the article do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Davies & Associates or any of its attorneys, staff or clients. External links are not an endorsement of the content.

Israelis looks to US E2 Visa as Vaccination Program Reopens Both Countries

Israel signed an E2 Treaty with the United States in 2019, but the Coronavirus pandemic caused a false start. As the world reopens, 2021 and 2022 look set to be bumper years for Israeli E2 visas.

Israel became the newest E2 Treaty Investor Visa Country in the world when it signed a treaty with the United States that came into force in May 2019. The E2 Visa allows anyone from a treaty country to move to the United States for the purpose of investing in and running a business.

Around 500 E visas were issued to Israeli nationals in 2019*, a figure that was expected to jump significantly in 2020. Then the Covid-19 pandemic hit. Borders were shut and the US embassy in Israel closed to all but essential operations. Visa processing ground to a halt and the number of E visa issuances in Israel dropped to just 260 last year.

The outlook for 2021 is mixed. While consular services have resumed at the embassy, they are still limited by social distancing and the need to protect both staff and applicants. Israel’s world-leading vaccination campaign mean things are likely to improve quickly in the second half of the year and into 2022. Given the current demand we are seeing from Israel, 2022 could be a bumper year for E2 visas in the country.

Benefits of an E2 Visa?

The E2 visa allows a person to invest in and run a business in the United States. Investment requirements are relatively low – usually starting from around $100,000 but need to be enough to support the business plan. It is possible to start a new business, acquire and existing business, or buy into a franchise. It is important to engage attorneys like Davies & Associates that has corporate lawyers working in close proximity with immigration lawyers because the business needs to be correctly structured to comply with the immigration regulations.

Spouses and children under the age of 21 can accompany the primary applicant. Spouses can apply for work authorization in the United States. The visa is valid for up to 5 years but can be renewed again and again provided the underlying business continues to operate. That said, the very first time an Israeli citizen is issued an E2 visa, it will be valid for anything up to 2 years before requiring renewal – subsequent renewals will be at the 5 year intervals.

Becoming a citizen of Israel to access the E2 Visa

Eligibility for the E2 Visa is determined by your country of citizenship. People from countries like Russia and South Africa are not directly eligible. Anyone from a non-E2 Treaty country the could claim Israeli citizenship can then become eligible for the E2 visa by virtue of their new Israeli nationality. Read more about dual Russia Israel citizenship.

People who hold dual UK and Israeli nationality may prefer to opt to apply for the E2 Visa under their Israeli passport. The UK is the only E2 country whose citizens are required to reside in their home country. Israeli-UK dual citizens can still apply at the embassy in London under their Israeli passport.

Alternative US Visas for Israelis

Israel and America have a long history of close political and economic ties. America is by far Israel’s leading export market with around one third of all exports going to America. This may mean the E1 Treaty Trader Visa is more suited to some Israelis. Israel has been eligible for the Treaty Trader Visa for much longer than the E2 Visa. In fact, Israel has been an E1 country since the 1950s. This visa allows for more easy access to the US for employees and owners of Israeli firms that conduct substantial trade with America.

Other alternatives to the E2 Visa for Israeli business owners, entrepreneurs and professionals include the EB5 Investor Visa and the L1 Transfer Visa. Only one Israeli was issued an EB5 investor visa in 2019 out of a total allocation of just over 700. The EB5 visa is a residency by investment program that offers a Green Card for $900,000. All qualifying family members can all obtain Green Cards for a single investment.

The L-1 Visa allows for the intracompany transfer of a manager, execuitve or specialized knowledge employee, from the Israeli office to the US office of the same company. It is possible to use this visa category to send a manager to oversee the establishment and growth of a new US operation of your existing Israeli business. 2,000 L-1 Visas were issued to Israelis in 2019.

* Figures include E1 Treaty Trader Visas as well as E2 Treaty Investor Visas.

This article is published for clients, friends and other interested visitors for information purposes only. The contents of the article do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Davies & Associates or any of its attorneys, staff or clients. External links are not an endorsement of the content.